Introduction Secondhand smoke (SHS) can quickly attain high concentrations in cars, posing health risks to passengers and especially to children. This paper assesses whether there are social disparities in children's exposure to SHS in privately owned vehicles.
Methods On weekday mornings and afternoons from September to November 2011, trained observers were stationed at 100 selected street intersections in Montreal, Canada. For each car transporting at least one passenger aged 0–15 years travelling through the intersection, observers recorded the estimated age of the youngest child in the car, whether any occupant was smoking and the licence plate number of the car. Licence plate numbers were linked to an area material deprivation index based on the postal code of the neighbourhood in which the car was registered.
Results Smoking was observed in 0.7% of 20 922 cars transporting children. There was an apparent dose–response in the association between area material deprivation level and children's exposure to SHS in cars. Children travelling in cars registered in the most disadvantaged areas of Montreal were more likely to be exposed to SHS than children travelling in cars registered in the most advantaged areas (unadjusted OR=3.46, 95% CI 1.99 to 6.01).
Conclusions This study revealed social disparities in children's exposure to SHS in privately owned vehicles.
- Secondhand smoke
- Socioeconomic status
- Priority/special populations
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Contributors AM reviewed the literature, developed the data collection procedure and coordinated the data collection, contributed to data analysis, interpretation of data and co-wrote the article. NH reviewed the literature, analysed the data and co-wrote the article. MC, B-SL and YK developed the methods and contributed to interpretation of data. MT, JC, JM and GDD contributed to the interpretation of data. JOL contributed to the design of the analyses, to the interpretation of data and to writing the article. All authors except NH and GDD contributed to the conception and design of the study and obtained the funding. All authors reviewed the article critically, approved the final version and are responsible for the reported research.
Funding This work was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (grant number 112687) and the Institut national de santé publique du Québec through a financial contribution from the Québec Ministry of Health and Social Services. JM holds a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) New Investigator Award and Operating Grants (MOP97879 and MSH-95353). YK holds a CIHR Applied Public Health Chair in Urban Interventions and Population Health. GDD holds a Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute Career Development Award in Prevention (#703946). JOL holds a Canada Research Chair in the Early Determinants of Adult Chronic Disease.
Competing interests None declared.
Ethics approval Ethics Committee of the Research Centre of the Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CRCHUM).
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data sharing statement Applications to use the data should be directed to the data custodians, see http://www.informationgovernance.scot.nhs.uk/ for further information.